BEIRUT, Lebanon — Security forces battled insurgents in a heavily guarded area of Damascus on Monday, killing two attackers as one blew himself up, local news media reported, in a clash that was unusually intense for the center of the capital even after more than four years of war in Syria.
The Nusra Front, Al Qaeda’s affiliate in Syria, said that three members had carried out the attack, on a military supplies and logistics headquarters.
Photographs posted online by supporters and opponents of the government showed a column of smoke towering above six-story apartment houses in Rukineddine, a northern district of central Damascus.
One intended target, according to both sides, was Brig. Gen. Mohammad Eid, who oversees arms supplies for the Syrian Army. Al Manar, the news channel of the Syrian government’s ally Hezbollah, said an attempt to assassinate him with a motorcycle bomb had failed.
The conflict in Syria, which began with protests against President Bashar al-Assad and turned into war, has heated up in recent weeks. Insurgents are making new gains in the north and south, with the government accelerating bombing campaigns in insurgent-held districts in the northern cities of Aleppo and Idlib, and in the Damascus suburbs. On Sunday in Aleppo, for instance, videos posted by antigovernment activists showed distraught parents pulling the bodies of children from a school that residents said was hit by a bomb dropped from a government helicopter. On Monday, doctors in Aleppo, Syria’s largest city, said one of its largest hospitals, Al Sakhour, had suspended operations after being hit repeatedly in government airstrikes.